30 September 2018, Writing - part x632, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Pathos, Imagination, and Entertaining Characters
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment. I'll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher. More information can be found at www.ancientlight.com. Check out my novels--I think you'll really enjoy them.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don't confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of a novel:
1. Design the initial scene
2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
a. Research as required
b. Develop the initial setting
c. Develop the characters
d. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
5. Write the climax scene
6. Write the falling action scene(s)
7. Write the dénouement scene
I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential title Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. The theme statement is: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.
Here is the cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working title Detective. I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
For novel 30: Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
For novel 31: TBD
Here is the scene development outline:
1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
5. Write the release
6. Write the kicker
Today: Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that pulls the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading. If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration. If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too. Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.
1. Reasonably written in standard English
2. No glaring logical fallacies
3. Reasoned worldview
4. Creative and interesting topic
5. A Plot
Everything is about entertainment. The purpose for all published novels is entertainment. Other than this is the only point of fiction literature, one of the main reasons is that entertainment can fill a lot of holes as well as result in the suspension of disbelief.
The factors that do lend themselves to entertaining are these:
6. Use of figures of speech (vocabulary and language).
How to develop entertaining protagonists? I can’t leave the discussion of entertaining protagonists without mentioning the romantic character. I assert that we are still in the Romantic Era for writing, but whether we are or aren’t, the romantic character is the favored character of most readers. If your protagonist is a romantic character or has romantic characteristics, this will improve the chance your readers will find them entertaining.
So, what does a romantic character look like? I happen to have a short list. This isn’t a perfect list, but it gets the basic idea. I’ll find examples as well.
1. The common man, innocence of humans, and childhood (children)
2. Focus on strong senses, emotions, and feelings
3. Awe of nature
4. Celebration of the individual and individualism
5. Importance of imagination
The purpose of imagination is entertainment. The execution of imagination provides much more than that, and the catharsis for the reader both in terms of frustration and relief at the verdicts are the goal. That is the depth of entertainment--pathos.
Here’s the point. It isn’t enough to simply have an imaginative idea, you have to do something with it. In a novel, the development of the idea in tension and release—the scenes, and in the overall catharsis—the climax, are the use of imagination to develop the plot. Overall, the Greeks called this type of development pathos, and related that this is what produced entertainment in the novel.
This is why a great love story or romance novel draws out the final conclusion of love to the point that it does. This is why the twists and turns in a strong novel. This is why the solution looks impossible, but the author provides a resolution in the climax that astounds the reader. That is the point—to astound the reader, not just in the climax, but at every tension and release in the novel. Some tension and release elements are more powerful than others, like the climax of the novel. The climax and resolution of the telic flaw of the entire novel should be earthshaking and mind blowing. This is the entire point of the novel, after all. On the other hand, the author should seek tension and release in every scene and mini-climaxes through the rising action that gradually develop and revel the climax.
The simplest example is the detective novel. In a detective novel, the telic flaw is the crime, and the climax is the resolution of the crime. The scenes reveal elements that gradually lead the detective to the climax and resolution of the crime. These scenes can’t be lackluster. Each one needs to be a tension and release based on the revealed new clue or idea that brings the detective closer to the ultimate resolution. The author’s skill in developing these overlapping resolutions in the tension and release of each scene are indicators of the power of the novelist. Each has to fit together like a puzzle piece, but not a puzzle piece the reader must search for in a box, but rather a singular box tied up with a bow and handed to the reader by the protagonist, setting, scene, plot, and other characters. The reader receives each piece of the puzzle like a present in the revelation of the scene. The author goes further and puts all the pieces together for the reader.
In the climax of the novel, especially a detective novel, the author hands the reader the puzzle and all the pieces suddenly fit together and the unsolvable suddenly becomes resolved. The reader should experience a catharsis of emotion as the resolution becomes obvious. This catharsis is called pathos. The most powerful catharsis and experience of pathos should be in the climax, but each tension and release in every scene should give a miniature catharsis of pathos.
Just to remind you—pathos is the proper emotional reaction to an experience while bathos is the improper emotional reaction. Just keep in mind, everything comes out of the imagination of the author to the imagination of the reader—this is ultimately what we as authors are aiming to achieve.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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